How to Survive in the Wilderness? Tips for When You’re Lost
How to Survive in the Wilderness: – If you find yourself lost, the first step is to remain calm and take a moment to assess your surroundings. Look for any notable landmarks such as a dominating mountain in the distance or a nearby stream that may provide clues to your location. The direction of the setting sun can also serve as a makeshift compass, as it always sets in the west. Similarly, the rising sun will always indicate the direction of the east, even if you must wait until morning. However, if you are unsure of which direction to go, even with this knowledge, further steps must be taken.
You can follow a stream downstream, which usually leads to a town. Hunger may be a concern, but there’s no need to fear starvation, as a normal or even sub-normal person can go without food for several weeks without suffering serious or permanent effects. If the night is approaching, seek some form of shelter, such as the lee of a big rock or a fallen tree, and clear away any flammable materials within three or four feet. Building a fire can help keep your spirits up and your body warm. If it’s cold and you don’t have a blanket, you can build your fire in a two-foot-wide trench about six inches deep. Once you have a bed of coals, cover them with the earth and sleep in the warm spot.
If you find yourself unable to start a fire, you can use leaves or pine/cedar branches to cover yourself. In case you need to signal for help, familiarize yourself with the standard Forestry and Outdoorsmen’s codes. For sound signals, three quick shots from a firearm, three quick shouts, or three quick whistles will suffice. It is advisable to carry a shrill whistle, which can be blown without much effort and is more penetrating than a voice, according to the Forestry Service. For sight signals during the daytime, create three puffs of smoke from a fire that won’t cause a forest fire. You can use damp wood or green leafy branches to generate smoke and regulate the puffs using your coat or a blanket.
If you find yourself in need of signaling for help, follow the standard Forestry and Outdoorsmen’s codes. To make sound signals, use three quick shots from a firearm, three quick shouts, or three quick whistles. It’s recommended to carry a shrill whistle that can be blown without exhausting effort and is more penetrating than a voice. For sight signals during the day, make three puffs of smoke using damp wood or green leafy branches on a fire built in a safe spot.
Use your coat or a blanket to regulate the puffs. Alternatively, flash three mirrors or wave a white coat, shirt, or blanket in three wide semi-circles. At night, make three small fires in a row, three flashes from a flashlight, or screen, and un-screen a lantern or a small bright fire. Repeat all signals regularly to attract attention by their recurrence, but keep the three fires burning steadily.
Before going into the woods, make sure to bring three essential items: a compass, a map, and waterproof matches. Even if you have a guide, a topographical map of the area, such as those prepared by the local lumber company or the Government’s Geodetic Survey maps, is highly recommended. Such maps are available for almost every part of the country, no matter how wild or unsettled.
With a map and a compass, even a beginner can find their way out of the woods, especially if they occasionally check their course using prominent landmarks. If no landmark is available, check your position before heading out. For example, say, “Here’s the camp on the stream that flows north to south. Today, I’m hunting to the east of it.” Remember to stay calm and take proper precautions, such as finding shelter and starting a fire, when needed.
To avoid getting lost in the woods, it’s essential to have a few tools and strategies at your disposal. First and foremost, make sure to bring a compass, map, and waterproof matches on your excursion. You can get detailed topographical maps of almost any region in the country from the lumber company or government geodetic survey. Even if you’re with a guide, it’s wise to carry your own map as a backup. To avoid straying too far off course, mark out a few key landmarks or trails on the map in pencil.
For example, you could draw parallel or converging trails, a triangle between two streams, or a circle around a hill that you shouldn’t venture beyond. If you do get lost temporarily, don’t panic. Glance at your compass now and then, and head west to find the stream. If you’ve checked the map beforehand, you’ll know that by veering north, you’ll come out above camp. Stay put and wait for your guide to find you, rather than wandering off in search of help.
This way, you won’t be out of distress signal range, and you can save your ammunition for when you really need it. Lastly, if you arrive at camp late at night and the next day is overcast, ask your guide or the proprietor to clarify the cardinal directions. You may have some erroneous ideas about north, east, south, and west due to being “turned around” or having no sun for reference.
It’s also foolish for anyone to venture into the wilderness without knowing how to build fires, create shelter, and other basic survival skills. It’s important to practice and learn the fundamentals of these tasks before heading out. Additionally, it’s important to use reasoning power and avoid panicking, even if spending a night or two in the woods.
Traveling during the day and taking precautions to avoid injury is also wise. In the event of an injury, staying put and building a large, smoking fire using a green brush can increase the chances of being found, especially since most Forestry Services now have access to planes that can locate and report distress signals, particularly smoke signals.